By Patrick Rocchio
The 49th Precinct Community Council has once again filled the hearts of many people with its generosity, as it filled local community food pantries.
The annual drive, which is nearing a decade, saw police officers from the 49th Precinct Community Affairs unit pick up around approximately 5,000 pounds of food donated by students and their families at P.S. 83 on Wednesday, December 21.
P.S. 83 has been the top single donor of food to the drive, which has many community groups and other organizations collecting food to fill local food pantries like those at the Bronx Jewish Community Council and St. Lucy’s Church, said Community Council president Joe Thompson.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca joined Thompson, P.S. 83 assistant principals Ray Grande and Brandon Muccino, and students from the school in loading up the vans of the food collected by all grades at the school. The donation was picked up and delivered to the BJCC by Thompson and 49th Precinct officers.
“It means a lot to our city, including people in my district,” Vacca said. “We have one million people suffering from food anxiety and that is a startling statistic because we have eight million people in the city. For all seasons, but especially during the holiday season, we need to continue drives like these.”
The children of P.S. 83 are answering a call to action, and have been doing so for a long time, Vacca said.
The children at the school were given lists of different kinds of food needed so there wasn’t any grouping of food left out, Grande said. Collection occurred on a daily basis beginning at the start of December and boxes for food were even left outside of each classroom as a constant reminder of those in need, Muccino said. The students collected high quality food, everything from 20 different items including rice, pasta, cereal and all kind of non perishables, Grande said.
“This accomplishes so much and it really helps build character in the children and a joy of giving,” Thompson said. “These kids are getting just as much a kick out of giving as they do on Christmas Day when they open their present. Plus, we are feeding a lot of people during the holidays.”
Among the food collectors were P.S. 83, Cub Scout Pack 162/47, P.S. 121, City-wide Mobile Response, Amalgamated Bank at 2178 White Plains Road, Van Nest Assembly of God, Van Nest Community Association, Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance, Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, Big Deal Supermarket at 1018 Morris Park Avenue, and many local residents who dropped off food during the drive at the 49th Precinct.
Several local businesses and organizations also donated turkeys to those in need, making for a memorable holiday feast. These were the White Plains Road Business Improvement District, Bronx Muslim Center, Maestro’s Caterers at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue, and Kings Harbor Multi Care at 2000 E. Gun Hill Road.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393